Child Abuse & Neglect FAQs

Child Abuse and Neglect — Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Where can I find information for foster parents and relative caregivers?

A: Read Caregivers and the Courts, which discusses juvenile dependency proceedings for caregivers and foster parents.

Q: My child is in foster care. How can I find out more information?

A: Talk to the social worker or child welfare agency. They can tell you more information about where your child is and how the courts work. Get the phone number from your county’s website. Or look in the “County Government” section of your phone book.

Get in touch with the superior court in your county. If you cannot find the phone number or address for the juvenile court, call the court’s main number.

Q: My child is a dependent of the court. Will he or she get a lawyer to represent him or her?

A: A child in a juvenile dependency case is given a lawyer unless the court says it would not be beneficial. The court can also appoint a Court Appointed Special Advocate (called a "CASA”) to help the child. Click for help finding a lawyer.

Q: What is the difference between guardianship and adoption?

A: Guardianship is not the same as adoption. A guardianship just gives custody of a child to the guardian. Guardianship does not take children away from their parents forever. Parents must continue to support their children financially in a guardianship. And, in a guardianship, children can inherit money or get social security benefits from their parents. The children in a guardianship are still related to their parents. The court can let the parents or relatives visit with the children in a guardianship.

Guardianship can last until the child turns 18. Or the court can end a guardianship and give the child back to the parents or choose a new guardian.

Q: How can guardians get financial help to provide for a child?

A: There are different kinds of financial help a guardian can get:

  • Welfare: If you are related to the child, you can get welfare even if you do not need the money. You can also get welfare if you are not related to the child but you need financial help.
  • Foster care payments: Some guardians can get foster care payments. These pay more money than welfare.
  • Kin-GAP (Kinship Guardianship Assistance Payment Program): You can get Kin-GAP if you are related to a child in a dependency case. This pays the same amount of money as foster care payments.
  • SSI (Supplemental Security Income): If the child has a disability, he or she may be able to get SSI or state disability benefits. You can use this money to take care of the child.
  • Medi-Cal: Guardians can get Medi-Cal for the child and for themselves if they are financially needy and are related to the child.

Ask the social worker what help you can get. If you want to adopt the child and the child has special needs, ask about the Adoption Assistance Program.

Note: If the child gets welfare, foster care payments, or Kin-GAP, your county may try to get child support from the parents.

Q: I am a dependent of the court and I'm turning 18. What happens next?

A:  If you are a ward or dependent of the juvenile court and are turning 18 on or after January 1, 2012 (or if you are between 18 and 20 and have previously been placed in a foster home), you may be entitled to extended foster care benefits beyond your 18th birthday. These benefits may include money for clothing and housing assistance, medical coverage, job placement services, school tuition and others. To find out if you are eligible, contact your current or former probation officer, social worker or lawyer. You can get more information at: www.fosteringconnections.org/california.

Q: Where can I find more links to information and help for child abuse and neglect cases?

A: Click for links to more information and literature that can help you understand child abuse and neglect cases or the juvenile dependency system.

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